Learning the lessons of the horrors of confinement

If there is anything that can be learned from the past year it’s that confinement is definitely a hindrance to freedom, writes Amanda Kamuene.

But what happens when your confinement is not a result of a pandemic but of war and persecution?

When looking at events of the past, it should be noted that confinement isn’t something that is new to society, particularly, in terms of war.

Examples date as far back as the Boer War in South Africa from 1900 to 1902 to the German concentration camps before and during the Second World War. Now historians are set to discuss the horrors of confinement in the First and Second World Wars and the Yugoslav conflict of the 1990s in a live webinar hosted by De Montfort University, Leicester to mark Armistice Day.

Panikos Panayi, Professor of European History at DMU, will look at the internment camp in Knockaloe on the Isle of Man during the First World War and how it led to the development of the ‘barbed-wire disease’, a psychiatric syndrome amongst male prisoners of war incarcerated for a long period of time. He will also discuss how this wasn’t the case for all prisoners as some prisoners tried to deal with their situation by developing cultural activities, creating a sort of ‘counter-culture’ within the internment camps.

DMU PhD student Jessica Cretney will draw on her own doctoral research to spotlight the factors that shaped the chilling designs of the Nazi concentration camps. Kenneth Morrison, Professor of Modern Southeast European History at DMU, will focus on war-torn Sarajevo, exploring how citizens adapted to life in the besieged city – without basic necessities such as electricity, gas and domestic water supply. He will look at the lessons that can be drawn from the case of Sarajevo and will be joined by curator at the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Elma Hodžić through a video link, who will discuss how citizens used their creativity to function during the siege.

War Crisis and Confinement: Lessons from the Twentieth Century takes place tomorrow (WED,NOV11) from 12.30pm to 2pm. For further information, contact the DMU events office at eventsoffice@dmu.ac.uk. To register for the webinar, click here.

‘I sat in A&E alone beside myself crying for five hours. Honestly, I just wanted the world to end. The baby could have died’

Hollie talks to Matthew Childs about her pregnancy scare and her experiences being pregnant during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Finding out you are pregnant is one of the most memorable and amazing moments of life, regardless of whether coronavirus is around every corner. But then the bleeding came. Sitting in A&E by yourself for five hours conjuring the worst outcomes in your head because you simply do not know if your child is going to be ok.

For Hollie, a 21-year-old nurse from York, this is what she had to go through at the start of her pregnancy.

“I sat in A&E alone beside myself crying for five hours. Honestly, I just wanted the world to end. The baby could have died,” she says.

“I had to have an internal scan and I was so scared of what the result might be. All I wanted was to have Ryan with me to let me know everything was going to be ok, but coronavirus meant that I was on my own for five hours.”

Luckily, everything was OK, but now there is the impending doom of coronavirus and what effect it might have on the child.

With the background of ongoing Covid restrictions Hollie and boyfriend Ryan, have decided to go private for the remainder of her pregnancy.

Hollie says that the coronavirus has brought special measures to the NHS, and this means that Ryan would be unable to be with her during her pregnancy scans or any other pregnancy visits. She says that going private means that Ryan is able to be there by her side for all their special moments.

“Ryan is really excited and supportive of me and the baby. Ever since the day I went into hospital bleeding I am certain I want Ryan with me as much as I can.

Going private was a tough choice but definitely worth it. This means that Ryan can be by my side for the pregnancy scans rather than him having to wait in the car and only be able to see pictures,” she says.

Hollie is now 25 weeks pregnant. With her pregnancy scare on the forefront of her mind she does not want to take any risks with coronavirus.

“It’s a completely different ball game. I have to be the one to restrict visitors now and when she is born. It is even more different than usual, I just want to be safe,” she says.

“I’m scared to see friends because a lot of them have been socialising with other people. It’s really irritating at times as I do not feel supported, I ultimately have to put my foot down for me and my child’s safety.”

Having a child during coronavirus has its difficulties. Not being able to see family and friends is isolating. You would not usually be worried about simple things such as going shopping but because of coronavirus even getting food is a challenge.

“You are always conscious about everything you do. I have realised that even going shopping has its difficulties. I either have to go really early or late at night,” she says.

Before coronavirus being pregnant still had its difficulties, of course, but there was a greater access to support and group talks. Some of these are vital for young parents to understand things that they may not have considered before. Unfortunately, now these are limited or not happening all together, which has an effect on young parents.

Hollie says, “There are no opportunities for me to do antenatal talks or group sessions. This is hard as I am unable to connect with other mums and raise any issues that I have. Since I am a young mum its very difficult because I don’t want to get anything wrong when the child is born.”

Part of the reason why Hollie is finding it difficult to find support or attend group sessions is due to her work as a nurse.

“I have gruelling 12 hour shifts and the next day I’m just recovering due to fatigue. Since I have more to carry now, I have got sciatica in my hip which makes me very tired and anxious,” she says.

Hollie also expresses her concerns about working with face masks for long periods of time. “Masks have made it worse for me. The measures I need to take to protect myself have made it worse. I’ve been sick in my masks and I have fainted because of the hot air blowing into my face. I have been given the option to use a visor, but I don’t feel comfortable wearing that as I don’t think it’s as protective as a mask.”

“I could have cut down my hours at work from 12 hours to six, but that would mean I would have to work more frequently increasing the risk of catching coronavirus,” she says.

Working as a nurse during coronavirus is so much different for Hollie now because along with protecting her patients, she has to protect her child.

Hollie’s baby is due 6th February 2021. Although it is still three months away coronavirus isn’t going anywhere and will create problems for Hollie. One of these will be when she is ready to give birth.

Hospitals have got regulations to maintain and one of these is that whilst Hollie is giving birth, she is unable to have anyone at her side until she has established labour.

“Ryan will miss out on my contraction period and won’t be able to support me until I have established labour. This is scary as all I want is for someone to be by my side to support me and tell me that everything is going to be OK,” she says.

“Even after the baby is born Ryan will only be able to stay with me for two hours. After this he is able to see me in visiting hours. This is shocking because if something happens to the baby he might not be here, and I will have to face the problems by myself. I really want him by my side, but it is something that I will have to live with.”

Having a child in the face of coronavirus comes with extreme difficulties and precautions, but having support from friends and family makes it so much better and reminds you of how special having a child really is.

Students make difficult decision to stay in the UK for second lockdown

By Tracey Ugwueru

International students are having to contemplate whether to stay or go home with Boris Johnson’s decision of another lockdown for the UK.

The lockdown started on Thursday, November 5, and is due to run until December 2.

A Polish International student, studying at DMU, has decided to stay in the UK because of the length of time that she would have to self-isolate if she went home, and for fear of transmitting the virus.

She said that going back to Poland would mean that she would have to self-isolate along with her family for two weeks and, when she returns, she would have to do the same.

The risk of transmitting the virus is avoided by not going to the airport nor travelling to and from different locations. She added that she didn’t want to risk catching the virus at the airport.

International students being more considerate and careful with their movements would keep limit virus transmissions, however it also means that they would miss spending Christmas with their family.

Another international student, from Sweden, said: “Brexit laws would make it difficult to come back.”

She added that if international students left before the lockdown they would have to apply for student status to allow them to come back to the UK.

She said their leaving would bring other complications such as confirming ID, processes which can take up to two weeks. Old people and young people are still being separated in Sweden to avoid transmission of the virus so going back for Christmas would still be difficult trying to get all the family together.

“Not much information has been given to international students and they have been left in the dark,” she continued.

Lockdown’s ‘no flights home’ adds extra uncertainty for Kenyan student in Leicester

By Tasleen Abdi 

The uncertainty of having ‘no flights home’ has added an extra layer of stress for a Kenyan student struggling with Covid restrictions in Leicester.

Second year Business Management student Elena Kyalo, 22, was already worried about living and studying at De Montfort University before the national lockdown rules were imposed. 

But her anxiety shot through the roof as Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared the devastating national lockdown details on November 1, to last until at least December 2. 

The Prime Minister stated: “Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residence will not be allowed – including holidays in the UK and abroad. This includes staying in a second home.” 

Elena said: “My mental health is deteriorating. Not being able to socialise with your fellow classmates whilst being stuck trying to get an education through a gadget is horrible, but the thought of lacking the opportunity to go back home to Kenya is unbelievable. 

“Studying in a foreign country, where everything is new to you, is scary enough, but having your freedom of movement restricted is terrifying.” 

Amongst the strict rules already imposed on University accommodations as to minimize the spread of Covid 19,

For herself, she fears this new restriction may do more harm than good, in addition to the strict rules already imposed at university accommodation.

“There is no certainty that this lockdown will be guaranteed to end on December 2nd,” added Elena. 

“This level of unsureness provides a gap that the second lockdown may be extended to a further date, which already adds to the bulk of pressure that’s already there.” 

Elena questioned whether protecting the mental health of students is being prioritised as a public health issue? She wondered whether restrictions place an even worse impact on an individual, and asked what can the government do to ensure that the limitations imposed create a reduced negative impact on students? 

Police warn motorists to be vigilant after rise in catalytic converter thefts

By Alex Marks McLeod

Drivers are unwittingly polluting their towns and cities – as police revealed thieves have been stealing catalytic converters from motor cars.

Police in Leicester have reported a spate of incidents in and around the city. They believe cases may have dropped off because of Coronavirus – but as life has slowly limped back to normal thefts have increased.

Thieves target catalytic converters – a small device fitted to the car exhaust which helps to neutralise harmful CO2 and harmful  emissions – for the precious metals platinum, palladium and rhodium found in the devices. The increase in reported cases have correlated with the boom in global precious metal prices.

Lee Marlow, 50, a resident of Leicester, had his catalytic converter stolen and didn’t know until he took his car for an MOT.

He said: “I was unaware that it happened until my MOT test two weeks later. My car failed the test on omissions – and that was because, unknown to me, thieves had stolen the catalytic converter.”

This price to reinstall his catalytic converter cost Lee about £150. “It was the most expensive MOT I’ve ever had,” he said.

The converters can be sold – depending on the model for anywhere between £100 to £1,000 by the thieves. 

Thieves are efficient and well-practised in using the correct machinery, as the process of taking out a catalytic converter can be done in less than 60 seconds.

A recent theft – filmed by a shocked onlooker in the north area of Leicester – showed two thieves jacking a car up, crawling underneath the motor and swiftly swiping the converter. They left, giving the man filming them a two fingered send off.

Last month, Leicestershire Police warned motorists to be aware of the thieves as incidents increased.

Detective Chief Inspector Reme Gibson of the force said brazen thieves tended to target cars in public car parks.

She said: “We have seen a rise in catalytic converter thefts around the force area. These crimes tend to occur in supermarket car parks and private driveways.

“Any vehicle can be subject to catalytic converter theft; however Toyota Auris, Toyota Prius, Honda Jazz and Honda Accord are known to be more vulnerable to this type of theft. We urge vehicle owners to take measures when parking and reduce the risk of theft.”

Police in Leicester say the number of catalytic converter thefts was 278 in 2017/18.
This has rocketed to 618 in 2019/2020, as thieves look to make a fast buck.
Incidents have been reported at university car parks, hospital car parks, supermarkets and private drive ways.
Police said today they were joining forces with two local garages – Euro Tyres in Barkby Road and Brookside Garage in Cannock Street – who were fitting a catalytic converter market kit free of charge to vehicles.